Creating Safe Spaces for the Soulby Marcy Jackson, Co-Director
The soul is generous: it takes in the needs of the world. The soul is wise: it suffers without shutting down. The soul is hopeful: it engages the world in ways that keep opening our hearts. The soul is creative: it finds its way between realities that might defeat us and fantasies that are mere escapes. All we need to do is to bring down the wall that separates us from our own souls and deprives the world of the soul’s regenerative powers.
—Parker J. Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life
A circle of trust is the kind of carefully created space that invites the soul to make itself known—the kind of space where we can practice the paradox of “being alone together,” a space that welcomes our inwardness even as it connects us to the gifts and challenges of community, and to the larger world.
Circle of Trust® facilitators have led retreats in a variety of settings with different constituencies. For example, two facilitators are leading a Courage to Lead® program for non-profit leaders in southern California. These leaders are not only finding ways to live and work more wholeheartedly, they’re also forming a strong bond of support for the demanding work they are doing in their communities. Two Michigan facilitators have been leading a program called “Nurturing the Heart of the Leader” that involves PreK-12 school leaders, education professors, business leaders in the community, the city manager and others who contribute to supporting education in this mid-sized town in Michigan (see interview with Janice Brown, a participant, above). By bringing educational and civic leaders together, a foundation for trust and collaboration around current opportunities and challenges in education has been strengthened. In Montana two facilitators recently led a renewal retreat for clergy who serve congregations in often-isolated settings. This opportunity to come together with peers in a safe setting afforded the opportunity to not only discuss the state of their congregational life but also to focus on the state of their souls as spiritual leaders.
We carefully prepare facilitators who have the qualities, capacities and skills required to hold and guide a process that allows people to engage their deepest hopes and fears in a community of shared exploration. Creating Circles of Trust: Facilitator Preparation Program, a two-year leadership and mentoring program, has prepared nearly 175 facilitators across the US, in Canada and Australia to lead retreats and programs based on the Circle of Trust® approach. Our 12th cohort of facilitators just finished the initial year of facilitator preparation retreats. In our early years we primarily worked with educators who wanted to lead Courage to Teach® retreats. But as interest grew in other serving professions—such as medicine/healthcare, ministry, law, philanthropy and non-profit leadership—we began preparing facilitators from a variety of professional and work backgrounds. In our most recent cohorts we have had teachers (PreK-12 and higher education) and educational leaders, clergy and spiritual directors, counselors, lawyers, community and non-profit leaders, physicians and business people.
Please visit our site for more information about our Facilitator Preparation Program.